Beating the Heat with Diabetes

Beating the Heat with Diabetes

August 1, 2018

Wow! It has been a hot mess outside.  Has your blood sugar been a hot mess as well?   The heat can have a strange effect on your blood sugar. If you are working hard or exercising, the effects of heat on your blood sugar are even greater.

Every summer, hospitals report more patients with diabetes coming to their emergency rooms (Orenstein, 2016).  Why?

  • Diabetes makes you more likely to become dehydrated.
  • Dehydration makes it easier to get heat exhaustion or have a heat stroke.
  • Your blood sugar will be higher if you are dehydrated or have a sunburn.

Staying hydrated is the easiest way to protect yourself from heat related illness.  Drinking water before, during, and after exercise is usually enough for the average person (Campbell, n.d).

When you are in the heat, check your blood sugar more often. The heat also changes the way your body reacts to medicines. You absorb insulin faster when you are hot.  This can lower your blood sugar too quickly.  If you are also exercising, your blood sugar can drop very low. Remember to always check your blood sugar before and after exercising.  If you are exercising or working outside in the heat for more than 1 hour at a time, you should check your blood sugar every 60-90 minutes. Always have plenty of fluids and extra carbohydrates handy.

Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion.  Symptoms of heat exhaustion can be the same as low blood sugar: sweating, light-headedness, shakiness, and confusion.  Listen to what your body is telling you. Have your meter, plenty of fluids, and extra carbohydrates handy.  If your blood sugar is normal and you have these symptoms, get out of the heat and cool down.  Move to the shade or an air-conditioned area, drink cool water, and loosen tight clothing.

Avoid sunburns.  Sunburns, like other injuries, cause stress to the body.  Stress raises your blood sugar.  To avoid sunburns, wear sunscreen.  Reapply sunscreen often if you are swimming or sweating.  Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing that covers your skin.  Wear a hat.  Don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing UV blocking sunglasses.

Staying educated will help you beat the heat with diabetes!


Campbell, A. (n.d.). Best Beverages for Staying Hydrated. Retrieved July 22, 2018, from

Orenstein, B. W. (2016, August 17). How Hot and Cold Weather Affects Your Blood Sugar. Retrieved July 22, 2018, from

Bibliography from

Heat Exhaustion or Low Blood Sugar_ (1)

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